Investigators say engine of crashed Lana'i plane was working
By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer
An investigator from the National Transportation and Safety Board said yesterday that she and two other investigators had ruled out mechanical failure as the likely cause of the crash of a plane on Lana'i that took the life of a Kane'ohe man.
"We look at man, machine and environment," said Tealeye C. Cornejo, an investigator from the NTSB's southwest regional office. "We've taken care of the machine, now we're going to look at the environment and the human side."
Cornejo said she hoped to begin her investigation of the human aspects of the crash today by interviewing the crash survivor, flight instructor Matt McGurk. McGurk, 22, suffered a broken ankle and wounds to the head.
Tweet Coleman of the Federal Aviation Administration said McGurk had surgery Saturday and was recuperating yesterday at the Queen's Medical Center.
McGurk's student, Matthew Monczynski, who was in the Navy, was killed Thursday evening in the crash. He was a technician who worked on airplanes and had always wanted to fly, Coleman said. The 22-year-old sailor was married and had recently become a father.
The NTSB's Cornejo said that she spent Saturday examining the wreckage at the crash site, about 4 1/2 miles from the Lana'i airport and six miles from Lana'i City.
She was assisted by an investigator from the aircraft company that built the 20-year-old Piper Cherokee and by an investigator from Textron Lycoming, the company that manufactured the aircraft's single, propeller-driven engine.
All flight systems appeared to have been operational when the craft went down, Cornejo said.
She said the four-seat aircraft was moving away from the Lana'i airport and toward Honolulu when its landing gear touched down in a remote area.
Neither of the two men made a distress call before the crash, Cornejo said. She said the aircraft was believed to have gone down about 8:30 p.m., and according to information obtained from the Coast Guard, the night was exceptionally dark, but skies were clear.
The men had filed a flight plan in Honolulu, saying they were going to Kahului, Maui. When they reached that location, Cornejo said, they reported to Honolulu that they had completed the flight plan. They did not say whether they landed or intended to land on Lana'i.
Cornejo said she could not be certain the flight was a training flight. She said she was also unsure which man piloted the craft.